Advice on a Shishi

eat4toads

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Hi Nuts!

Long time lurker, first time poster. This spring i bought a Shishigashira Maple from a nursery and after taking some air layers from the branches I am starting to think about a design. As a newbie, I would be interested in all of your input on where you'd think this tree should go - I see a couple different options (single trunk, twin trunk, maybe carving?) . Looks like this was grafted onto heartier root stock but the graft site is pretty darn seamless so I have been debating on whether to further make a layer to get it on its own roots.
 

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sorce

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Welcome to Crazy!

I would just cut that middle thing out nicely and let it grow a while.

Sorce
 

Shibui

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The fork is way too high for a traditional twin trunk bonsai - normally the second trunk starts close to the ground. With the first branch this high it would fit into broom style or the emerging 'natural' deciduous style.

Nebari is a big factor in deciduous bonsai but the roots are covered so it is hard to guess whether the trunk could be inclined one way or the other to give a better single trunk upright bonsai. I don't particularly like the line going up through the taller trunk because it has so little taper so I would be trying to work out a way of using the thinner trunk for informal upright but that might mean tilting the trunk to the left. Removing the larger trunk will also leave a large scar that will take many years to heal over.

Unfortunately these are slow growing so development is likely to be frustrating and take many years.
 

BobbyLane

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kinda reminds me of one im working on, actually mine is kotohimi, its going to be a natural style tree, got some filling out to do.
going forwards,
 

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eat4toads

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Welcome to Crazy!

I would just cut that middle thing out nicely and let it grow a while.

Sorce
Yeah that little nub has to go, crazy how quick after airlayering caused back budding on that little bit.
 

eat4toads

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The fork is way too high for a traditional twin trunk bonsai - normally the second trunk starts close to the ground. With the first branch this high it would fit into broom style or the emerging 'natural' deciduous style.

Nebari is a big factor in deciduous bonsai but the roots are covered so it is hard to guess whether the trunk could be inclined one way or the other to give a better single trunk upright bonsai. I don't particularly like the line going up through the taller trunk because it has so little taper so I would be trying to work out a way of using the thinner trunk for informal upright but that might mean tilting the trunk to the left. Removing the larger trunk will also leave a large scar that will take many years to heal over.

Unfortunately these are slow growing so development is likely to be frustrating and take many years.
The single thinner trunk as the primary lead was my first thought too, but I have been reluctant to chop the big trunk as I have heard these do not heal over quickly. I dont think there is considerably great nebari either (quite a tangled mess of roots in the nursery pot). So my idea with the twin trunk was to do another layer just below the fork.
 

eat4toads

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kinda reminds me of one im working on, actually mine is kotohimi, its going to be a natural style tree, got some filling out to do.
going forwards,
Good trunk on the kotohimi! whats your reason to keep both large branches off of the fork? has a funky look to it, but I like it - definetly more natural style
 

Pitoon

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I would cut off the larger side of the fork. Prepare yourself.......they grow SLOW!
 

BobbyLane

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Good trunk on the kotohimi! whats your reason to keep both large branches off of the fork? has a funky look to it, but I like it - definetly more natural style
i did another virt earlier.
the two subtrunks off the fork ill keep on this one as i see a natural tree in there, it speaks to me, mine has a chucky base and radial root spread too, while the top on mine will swell over time, so will the base so thats part of my thinking.

as someone said, the base or a good base is very important.

never owned a shishi btw, kotohimi is the exact opposite in terms of growth speed.
 

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Wulfskaar

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I've got a shishigashira as well a month ago but haven't touched it.

I'm curious about your air layers... did they work out for you? Did you do anything special on those? Am I too late to try this year?
 

eat4toads

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I've got a shishigashira as well a month ago but haven't touched it.

I'm curious about your air layers... did they work out for you? Did you do anything special on those? Am I too late to try this year?
I tried 3 different air layers off this tree and only one rooted and its not really even looking so hot right now. Its been pretty darn hot in my area this summer so far so there was a possibility of thinks drying out quickly. I just did sphagnum moss wrapped in plastic but maybe there could have been a more effective way.
 

Wulfskaar

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I tried 3 different air layers off this tree and only one rooted and its not really even looking so hot right now. Its been pretty darn hot in my area this summer so far so there was a possibility of thinks drying out quickly. I just did sphagnum moss wrapped in plastic but maybe there could have been a more effective way.
I hope the new one makes it!
 

JonW

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If you want to go with a twin trunk, air layer just below division of the two trunks and shorten the thicker one down to a branch growing over the less dominant trunk. If you don't want a twin trunk, I agree with removing the thicker trunk, making the cut toward the chosen back of the tree. I have a kotohime that I made some relatively big cuts on, and put the tree in a pond basket to grow out. I've gotten about 1 foot of new growth on the new branches and the wounds are almost healed. I plan on pruning each fall for a couple years until it is ready for a bonsai pot again.

The only downside with leaving the thinner trunk is there is some lack of congruence in the base of the trunk with the thinner trunk. The base is still like a steam pipe and the thinner trunk has lots of movement. The base of the tree calls for a taller tree in my opinion. If you start to feel confident air-layering, I might still air layer closer to the thinner trunk even if you don't go for the twin trunk idea.
 

eat4toads

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If you want to go with a twin trunk, air layer just below division of the two trunks and shorten the thicker one down to a branch growing over the less dominant trunk. If you don't want a twin trunk, I agree with removing the thicker trunk, making the cut toward the chosen back of the tree. I have a kotohime that I made some relatively big cuts on, and put the tree in a pond basket to grow out. I've gotten about 1 foot of new growth on the new branches and the wounds are almost healed. I plan on pruning each fall for a couple years until it is ready for a bonsai pot again.

The only downside with leaving the thinner trunk is there is some lack of congruence in the base of the trunk with the thinner trunk. The base is still like a steam pipe and the thinner trunk has lots of movement. The base of the tree calls for a taller tree in my opinion. If you start to feel confident air-layering, I might still air layer closer to the thinner trunk even if you don't go for the twin trunk idea.

I am leaning towards this idea a lot as I could see the twin trunk looking pretty nice. Can I ask why you think I should reduce the larger stem to a branch going over the smaller stem for the twin trunk idea and not just leave it at the height it is now?

But yes, the trunk on this tree very long (even has another 1/2 inch under the soil) and I think either air layering the trunk would definetly help the proportions. Unfortunately, none of my air layers have survived from this tree and after spending some money at a nursery on it I am hesitant to commit to air layering the trunk and possible losing the tree. I have read on here that people have struggled a bit on getting Shishi's to survive on their own roots when removing off of a graft. I think in this moment best to let the tree grow and next spring hopefully make a decision on air-layering the trunk or chopping off the larger stem.
 

JonW

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I'd cut it because it is too long and straight otherwise.

Might not be worth the risk. I thought shishigashira was one that could be air layered. I've seen them on their own roots. Very similar to kotohime in some ways.
 

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